Galena student's artwork to hang in the United Nations building in New York City

GALENA, Ks. — Its always an accomplishment for an artist to be recognized for their work. But when the recognition involves both national and international recognition – well, then you know you’ve got something special.

Dakota Bennett, Galena Middle School Student, said, “Like I still wake up and I’m like, ‘I’m thinking this is a dream,’ because this is just crazy.”

Dakota Bennett is your typical middle school student, but she’s accomplished something huge. With competition from 600,000 young artists worldwide, she’s one of 23 Merit Winners in the Lions Club International Peace Poster Contest. Now her art is heading to a very special spot in New York City.

Danielle Cruse, Galena Art Teacher, said, “To think that her work, that a seventh grade student at Galena schools created is going to be hanging in the United Nations.”

This years theme is Peace Through Service. From there she wanted to honor those people who put their lives on the line, including someone close to her heart.

“My dad was in military,” said Bennett.

“He came back before I was born, but he still tells me stories about what he did.”

Dakota is also honoring public servants in the community.

Steve Billington, Galena Lions Club President, said, “I myself am a combat vet. Numerous people in our group are veterans and first responders, things like that, and we were so happy about it because all we do for our community is try to bring peace and understand and teach the kids what peace really is.”

And while it may be a month away, she hopes to honor them as a grand prize winner.

“The next step would be winning the entire competition which would be mind blowing,” said Bennett.

Until then, she’ll continue painting in galena, with a new found spirit.

“It’s really cool to be able to see that my art is important.”

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